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Texas Divorce FAQ

Do you want a quick and easy divorce that requires no effort or stress output from you? Well, we at the Law Office of Bryan Fagan would like to promise you one of those experiences with your divorce but just can’t do that. It would be nice to not have to worry about the divorce, your kids, your spouse doing something silly during the case, etc. but the reality is that your divorce is not going to be fun. It’s going to be some work. However, if you choose wisely and think proactively you can have an experienced family law attorney by your side throughout the entire divorce process. That is where the attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan enter the picture. 

Our attorneys offer free-of-charge consultations six days a week for our community and potential clients of ours. What we have found over the many years of offering these consultation opportunities is that people tend to ask very similar questions about certain areas of a divorce. This makes sense given that, although your family is unique, most of the divorce experiences that people have are similar. Everyone files the same documents to begin a divorce and you are all looking to file a Final Decree of Divorce to end your case. The middle of a divorce may be unique for you and your family but the case itself will look like anyone else’s. 

For that reason, we feel confident in including some of the questions that we have been asked frequently over the years as well as the answers that we tend to give people in response to those questions. Of course, your specific divorce may see something happen that causes one of these answers to not be true. There are always situations like that that can arise over time that throw a wrench into the process and cause you and your lawyer to have to call an audible. That's ok. It's expected. The only question that you can ask yourself is if you are going to be able to make the necessary shift in your case so that you do not lose sight of your goals and the path that you are going to take to accomplish those goals. 

Again, if you have questions about your specific divorce that are not covered here today, we encourage you to reach out to the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Whether you would like to have an in-person consultation with one of our attorneys or prefer a virtual or phone consultation, our team is here for you. The information that you can gain from one of these consultations can be just what you needed as far as offering you a springboard into a divorce and eventually to the other side of a divorce. Take advantage of this resource and then please call our office with any questions that you may have. We serve clients across southeast Texas and are proud to do so. 

Do I have to get a divorce in the state I was married?

No, you can get divorced in Texas even if you were married in another state. So long as you or your spouse have lived in Texas for six months before filing for divorce and in the county where you are filing for the prior 90 days, jurisdiction is established in the Lone Star State. You may then file for and obtain a divorce here in Texas. The same is true in reverse- if you got married in Texas, if one spouse still lives in Texas for the previously stated length of time you can still get divorced here even if one of you has moved.

What does it mean to be engaged in a “pro se” divorce?

This means that you are not represented in your divorce. We don’t have any statistics to present to you today on this but rest assured that most people who get divorced in Texas do so with an attorney representing them. If you choose to forego representation in your divorce, then you would be a pro se litigant. The process does not change when you represent yourself but the journey to a completed divorce can be more difficult. 

Do I have an uncontested divorce?

An uncontested divorce is hard to come by. When you have an uncontested divorce that means you and your spouse agree on all issues of your case- from children's custody, conservatorship, and child support to issues related to determining what is community property and then ultimately dividing up that community property. You and your spouse would need to talk through these issues together to determine whether yours is an uncontested divorce. Most divorces tend to be contested at least on a few issues. 

How quickly can I wrap up the divorce?

The divorce process in Texas is not necessarily one that could be called “quick.” Even if you and your spouse have an uncontested divorce, agree on all subjects, and get your paperwork drafted, agreed to, signed, and filed immediately after filing your case you would still need to wait 60 days from the date of filing to officially go before a judge and ask to have your divorce granted. In the meantime, the two of you can work out any details, adjust to living separately and perhaps even reconcile your marriage if that is in the cards. 

Under what circumstances, if any, can I waive this 60-day waiting period?

Family violence would need to be a part of your divorce to get this 60-day waiting period waived so that you could go ahead and complete your divorce sooner rather than later. If there has been a conviction of family violence in the recent past before filing your divorce, then your divorce court can waive the 60-day waiting period and divorce you all sooner than 60 days after the date on which the divorce was filed. 

How will my spouse be notified of my having filed the divorce?

There are two ways to provide notice to your spouse of your having filed for divorce. The first is to have your spouse personally served with notice through a citation. Service would be completed by a private process server or law enforcement officer. In the alternative, if your spouse is willing to sign a Waiver of Service then that would be all that needs to occur. You could personally deliver the divorce petition and any other documents that are needed to initiate the divorce without having to hire a private process server. Waivers of Service are typically utilized in uncontested divorce cases.

Do my spouse and I need to agree to the guideline levels of child support as outlined in the Texas Family Code?

No, you and your spouse are free to agree to basically any amount of child support that a court determines to be in the best interest of your children and does not simultaneously violate the norms of Texas public policy. There is a chart with guideline levels of child support for as many children as you have contained in the Texas Family Code. However, if you and your spouse would like to agree to an amount of child support that is either more or less than the guideline levels of support then you may do that, as well. You may need to support your justification to do so, however, in a prove-up hearing with the judge before him or her signing the Final Decree of Divorce. 

How much does a divorce cost?

It all depends on the circumstances involved in your specific divorce. The more complex your divorce is the more expensive your divorce will be. This is due to family law attorneys billing by the hour. Think of it like a taxicab- when that cab is moving, you’re being charged. If your destination is around the corner, then your bill will be significantly less than if your destination is around the world. Work to simplify your divorce to reduce costs and attorney’s fees. 

Can I get child support directly out of my spouse’s paycheck?

Yes, the best way to do this is via a wage withholding order that will typically be drafted and filed along with your final decree of divorce after your case. The wage withholding order will be sent to your spouse's employer and will specify how much child support needs to be withheld each month. The Office of the Attorney General Child Support Disbursement Unit will handle those payments and get them sent out to you from your spouse's employer.

How can I get divorced if my spouse is in jail?

Your spouse being incarcerated is not something that necessarily needs to hold you back from getting a divorce. If your spouse is in jail, then you would need to contact the jail to find out how to have him or her served with notice of the divorce. That requirement does not go away even if he or she is behind bars. Or there is a possibility that he or she could agree to an uncontested divorce in which case you could have him or her sign the waiver as long as there is a notary on-site at the jail or prison where your spouse is incarcerated. 

What can I do if I cannot locate my spouse?

You will need to display some due diligence in attempting to locate your spouse before having your divorce finalized. For example, you may need to reach out to a private investigator or otherwise try and find your spouse's last known addresses to have a process server or law enforcement officials attempt to serve him or her at those locations. Proof of those attempts at service will need to be documented and presented to a court for their review. Once a judge is satisfied that you have undertaken the requisite amount of due diligence in attempting to serve your spouse personally you will be able to have him or her served in an alternative method that allows your divorce to proceed. 

How can I get my spouse to pay for my attorney’s fees?

It is a common request for relief listed in petitions and counterpetitions for divorce that your spouse should be ordered to pay your attorney's fees. In most divorce cases it ends up that both sides pay their attorney. However, if you are truly unable to afford to pay your attorney or your spouse has engaged in egregious behavior before or during the divorce then he or she may be ordered to pay your attorney's fees as well as their own.

How are taxes handled in conjunction with my divorce?

Tax issues are person-to-person specific. You should consult with an experienced tax professional, accountant, or another person who has the experience and knowledge to guide you in this area. 

Do I have to pay household bills during the divorce? 

You and your spouse will likely agree on the basic bills of your household, such as utilities are concerned. If you cannot agree, then that is an issue that can be handled in mediation with an experienced family law mediator. If your name is on a bill, it is important to understand that you are legally responsible for paying that bill no matter what a family court judge rules in your case. As a result, if your spouse is ordered to pay a bill that has your name on the account then you will need to be sure that he or she does so or this can hurt your credit. 

Do I or my spouse need to move out of the home to get divorced?

No, you and your spouse can remain in the marital home if you would like even after the divorce has been filed. You should consider your specific circumstances when it comes to determining whether and when to move out of the marital home. On the one hand, considering the housing market currently, it may make financial sense for you to stay in the family home if possible, to avoid paying over-the-moon housing costs. On the other hand, if there is an issue with family violence or something similar then you may not have a choice but to move out of the home. 

Do I have to leave my money in my checking account during the divorce?

You will need to check with your court before doing anything with money in bank accounts. It is understandable to want to deposit your paycheck in a new bank account once your divorce gets going, for example. However, your court may not allow you to do this for various reasons. Normal, household bills and attorney's fees can be paid out of these bank accounts, but you should proceed with caution before spending money on items that can be seen as non-essential. 

When can I remove my spouse’s name from health and automobile insurance?

Your court may have standing orders set up that do not allow you to remove your spouse from automobile or health insurance policies that you are listed on. Even if there are no standing orders in your case then you will need to review any temporary orders for your jurisdiction to determine what you can and cannot do regarding removing their name from your insurance. Most of the time you will be in the clear as far as doing that once your divorce is final but even then, you should review your final decree of divorce to determine whether you are ordered to keep your spouse’s name on your insurance for a period longer than your marriage itself. 

What is spousal maintenance?

Spousal maintenance is Texas’s version of alimony. If you and your spouse have been married for at least 10 years, then you can qualify for spousal maintenance. Usually, an award of spousal maintenance will not last for any longer than ten years in duration and can be no more than 20% of your spouse’s gross monthly income. The other type of post-divorce spousal support is known as contractual alimony and can be agreed to between you and your spouse in mediation.

What is common law marriage?

For you to be married in a common law marriage in Texas you and your spouse would need to agree to be married, live together after the agreement as husband and wife, and represent others in your community that you are married. So long as these three conditions are present all at the same time you are in a valid common-law marriage. This means that if you and your spouse want to separate from one another that you would need to go through a divorce rather than a simple breakup.

Questions about the material contained in today's blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan

If you have any questions about the material contained in today's blog post, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free-of-charge consultations six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. These consultations are a great way for you to learn more about the world of Texas family law as well as about how your family’s circumstances may be impacted by the filing of a divorce or child custody case.

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